New paternity leave plans may be amended

New rules which will allow fathers to take longer periods of paternity leave could be changed by the coalition government.

The Additional Paternity Leave Regulations 2010, due to come into force next year, will entitle fathers of babies due on or after 3 April 2011 up to 6 months of paternity leave by swapping leave with the mothers.

However, it is thought the government is looking at a new system of parental leave that may involve dropping the new paternity rules.

Asked in the Commons about the planned implementation of the 2010 Regulations, Theresa May, Minister for Women and Equalities, said: "We are looking into how we can avoid constantly requiring businesses to effect innovations, and we are examining the timetabling of the additional paternity leave and flexible parental leave regulations."

As they stand, the regulations mean that fathers can only take additional paternity leave if the mother has returned to work, and then not before the baby is 20 weeks old.

A more far-reaching proposal could be on the new government's agenda, one that would offer parents more flexibility over how and when they share leave between them.